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  Blonde. Purple Kids In America
Year: 2021
Director: Marcus Flemmings
Stars: Julian Moore-Cook, Ellie Bindman, Adam J. Bernard, Jennifer Lee Moon, Jessica Murrain, Richard Sandling, Daniel Jordan, Joe Gallina, Jess Radomska, Nicholas Gray, Andy Chaplin, Oliver Silver, Stella Taylor, Ryan Molloy, Thomasin Lockwood
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: The heist could have gone better for Wyatt (Julian Moore-Cook). What started as a good idea to make easy money and improve his lot in life turned very sour indeed once he got into the bank in question and started shooting. This attracted the attention of the police, who are currently surrounding the building and somehow the hostage negotiator has Wyatt's phone number and has called him - that's right, there's a hostage as well. Feeling more trapped than he ever has, which is saying something considering the way he has become stuck as a petty criminal, he acts aggressively towards the negotiator, whose face he never sees, and to his hostage, Maddison (Ellie Bindman), a sixteen-year-old aspiring actress who can't believe how badly this is going.

British kids have been emulating Americans in the playground for decades, if it wasn’t Starsky and Hutch they were playing in the nineteen-seventies it was Marvel superheroes in the twenty-first century, but that prompts the question, is this a good model for British filmmakers to adopt? Not everyone wants to craft "More tea, vicar?" heritage cinema, no matter how well it does internationally, but should Brits be emulating the hits from across the Atlantic in search of success? As far as Blonde. Purple goes, the answer to that would be a resounding no if you think endless references to the Yanks are going to fool audiences into believing they were watching genuine Americans, especially when the accents and dialogue were going to be as shaky as heard here.

OK, not everyone is going to be a Lennie James or David Oyelowo, but there was so much so painfully aspirant towards the cinema of either Spike Lee or Quentin Tarantino in this that it looked as if director Marcus Flemmings was taking the piss. Blatantly obviously not filmed anywhere near America, he did his best to recreate the trappings of an American crime drama merely by ripping off his favourites or liberally dosing his script with callbacks to his favourite movies - not just the obvious ones, either, Straight Time and Lord of War get namechecked, but Pulp Fiction, from where this lifted its structure and tone wholesale, was demurely left out of the characters' near-endless conversations. There may have been a tight ninety-minute thriller struggling to get out of this, but it dragged on past the two hour mark in an insanely overlong overindulgence.

Flemmings was a black and British filmmaker, which made it all the more mysterious why he decided to constantly reference American racism when there was plenty of British racism he could have been tackling. Yes, the Black Lives Matter movement had then-recently become a global phenomenon, and that had begun in the States, but that had been adapted to the countries in question, not culturally appropriated the issues of America exclusively, which was what happened in Blonde. Purple, starting with a title sequence that edited a montage of new cartoons and footage of the likes of Malcolm X and the LA riots. Fair enough, the intentions were clearly noble, but this was a crushing disappointment to anyone hoping for a British perspective on race when it came across as so artificial, not unlike a series of filmed acting improv classes which too often leaves Wyatt in angry tears. There was no joy in this observation: Flemmings had won awards, and he was getting a UK movie made and distributed, no mean feat in 2021, but this was dispiritingly unconvincing. They needed to find their own voice, not this. Music by Billy Jupp.

[Blonde. Purple will be available on Digital Download from 30th November 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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